What causes night sweats?

Night sweats refer to excessive sweating during sleep which results in drenched sleepwear and sheets that is not related to an overheated sleeping. It is also called as sleep hyperhidrosis.

Night sweats can be a sign of a serious disease which affects approximately 3%  of the population. Though the majority of its causes are non-life threatening, a specialist should always be asked to determine the cause.

There are different causes of night sweats. Some of the conditions which can cause night sweats to include the following;

Menopausal symptoms

Often, night sweats are a very common sign many women experience during menopause. This condition is related to not having enough estrogen in the body.

If you are a woman in late 40s or early 50s, your periods have recently stopped and you are also getting hot flushes during the day. Then, it’s very likely that your night sweats are down to the menopause. Menopausal symptoms can also begin below the age of 45 and before your periods have completely stopped.

If the night sweats are worrying and you have other signs, there are certain lifestyle changes which can help. If this is not enough, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can also help to improve your menopausal symptoms.


Some medicines can also cause night sweats as a side-effect. For instance some antidepressants and aspirin. Medication like tamoxifen and even paracetamol can also cause night sweats. If your night sweats are due to medication, then it may be possible to take an alternative medication. Your physician will discuss this with you.

Low blood sugar levels

Sometimes low levels of blood glucose, called hypoglycemia or ‘hypos’, can cause sweating. Those individuals who are taking insulin or some types of oral diabetes medications such as sulfonylureas may experience low sugar levels at night accompanied by sweating. Hypoglycemia can also occur during the day, leading to;

  • Feeling hungry or irritable.
  • Poor concentration and irritability.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Confusion and problems with speaking.
  • In severe cases, loss of consciousness.

It’s important to consult with your physician if you think you might be suffering from hypoglycemia. This is because night sweats can cause severe complications and even death. Your physician may change your medication or insulin dose to reduce risks.


Most infections can cause a fever with some sweating. However, a fever at night causing night sweats is common with certain types of infections. Tuberculosis (TB) is the infection which is most commonly associated with night sweats.

Moreover, infections caused by germs, such as inflammation of the heart valves, inflammation within your bones, and abscesses, all may cause night sweats. They can also be a symptom of HIV infection. Usually, influenza causes a high temperature (fever) which comes and goes, it is not specifically associated with night sweats.


Sometimes, night sweats can be an early sign of some cancers. Though other causes of night sweats are more likely as a reason for night sweats, it is very important to have cancer diagnosed and properly treated as soon as possible.

Lymphoma is the most common type of cancer associated with night sweats. It is possible that you experience other signs and symptoms such as weight loss and fevers if this is the underlying cause.

Overactive thyroid gland

Sweating or flushing can also be seen with overactive thyroid gland also called hyperthyroidism. Your thyroid gland is overactive in this condition. Other signs may include weight loss, feeling warm and losing weight without an apparent reason.

Other conditions

There are many other conditions as well which may cause night sweats. For instance, taking illegal drugs or drinking too much alcohol. Other conditions like stroke, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, and anxiety can all cause night sweats.

Moreover, a condition called hyperhidrosis causes excessive sweating. People having this condition sweat too much in the day and also during the night.

Areeba Hussain

Areeba is an independent medical and healthcare writer. For the last three years, she is writing for Tophealthjournal. Her prime areas of interest are diseases, medicine, treatments, and alternative therapies. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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